F-35 is no longer a shoe-in in the Canadian NG fighter selection, but it’s still in the running depending on the results from an options analysis. The federal government confirmed Dec. 12 that it has “hit the reset button” on its plan to acquire new fighter aircraft. However, contrary to rumours a week earlier, senior officials told a media briefing that the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II remains an option if competitive bidding is opened to other aircraft manufacturers. Other fighters that could be considered by Canada include the Boeing F-18 Super Hornet, the Eurofighter Typhoon, the Dassault Rafale, and the Saab Gripen. An independent KPMG audit commissioned by the government and using Department of National Defence numbers indicated that the basic acquisition of 65 F-35s would cost $8.39 billion. That includes $87.4 million for each aircraft, with the balance accounted for by infrastructure, armament and other related direct costs. The overall lifecycle costs of buying, operating, maintaining and eventually disposing of them by 2052 is estimated by KPMG in its Nov. 27 report at $44.82 billion. That includes $491 million which would be spent by Canada as a Tier 3 partner in the multi-national Joint Strike Fighter program by 2015. Operating costs over four decades are projected at nearly $20 billion, and maintenance and overhaul at $13.3 billion. Some $2.6 billion more would cover contingency costs such as shifting exchange rates and inflation, and it would cost $43 million to eventually dispose of the F-35 at mid-century. An additional $982 million would be required to replace aircraft lost to crashes and other causes. An official explained that discussions with allies suggested that it is reasonable to expect to lose two to three aircraft for every 100,000 flight hours in a fleet. The officials declined to speculate on how long the process to replace Canada’s aging fleet of Boeing CF-18s might take. One suggested that further life-extension projects might be required to cover the gap before replacements arrive. Source: Canadian Skies, Ken Pole
Gravity always wins!